Full of hot air! BPL’s Cortelyou branch reopens after two-day closure for extreme heat despite dropping temps

Not cool: Patrons returned to the Courtelyou branch on Wednesday after Brooklyn Public Library bigwigs closed the location due to high temperatures inside on Monday and Tuesday, some of the coolest days of the summer.
Brooklyn Paper
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Talk about a hot read!

Brooklyn Public Library leaders reopened the Courtelyou branch in Ditmas Park on Wednesday after closing the location for two days due to excessive heat — on what were ironically some of the coolest days of the summer.

The book-lender shuttered in part due to an air-conditioning system gone haywire, according to a spokeswoman, who said bigwigs wanted to spare visitors from the swampy stacks.

“Even though it was not hot outside, it got very hot and humid inside the building,” said Fritzi Bodenheimer. “We didn’t want to make patrons and staff feel uncomforta­ble.”

Temperatures rose within the branch between Argyle and Rugby roads even as outdoor thermometers showed them drop from a weekend high of 85 degrees to around 74 degrees on Monday and 79 degrees on Tuesday, according to National Weather Service data.

The sizzling stacks resulted from a combination of the busted air conditioning and otherwise poor ventilation that trapped patrons’ lingering body heat, Bodenheimer said.

“There are few windows at the Cortelyou branch, so even on a cool day there is not enough volume of air to cool a building with the continued additional heat being generated by people and equipment,” she said.

The library reopened with a makeshift cooling system comprised of two fans, its front door, and a window in lieu of its out-of-service air conditioning, which should be up and running later this week, according to Bodenheimer.

“Our engineers, electricians, and facility staff are working hard to diagnose the problems,” she said.

And although readers welcomed the book-lender’s return to business as usual, some complained its strategy for keeping the place cool was less-than effective.

“Even with the doors open, it’s hot right now,” said Jonathan Schwartz, who travels from Kensington to use the branch.

Reach reporter Colin Mixson at or by calling (718) 260-4505.
Updated 4:01 pm, August 22, 2018
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